Sunday, 8 December 2013


Saturday morning and I am back home after my regular spin class at the gym. For the uninitiated, a spin class is basically a group workout on stationary bikes accompanied by pumping music and screeching instructor. Spin classes are also called RPM - if the gym has purchased the license to use the internationally registered and recognized Les Mills program. My gym is stingy. No water fountains and no Les Mills. Instead each Saturday, the quality of the class is dependent on the Friday evening activities of the instructor. Truthfully I have witnessed this particular instructor coming into the gym drinking a can of Red Bull and smoking a cigarette. Yet being the Netherlands, the crowd is tolerant of mediocrity. I also don’t mind. Not only do I generally get a little sweat happening, my brain is stretched trying to translate the Dutch instructions, and I have my own personal challenge to not look at the clock in less than five minute intervals.

I too like to keep the tension tight in my exercise schedule. That is why I exercise Saturday morning. Niggling headache and dry mouth always disappear when my body takes over the pain. I am generally good as long as I keep my eyes diverted from the floor-and-wall length mirrors, and nobody requests the dvd of the Grand Canyon route that induces nausea with all the sudden turns and sharp dips. The secret to survival, as it is for many occasions, is correct caffeine dosage beforehand.

My spin class colleagues don’t really know what to make of me. My dedication is questioned because I refuse to buy either cycling shoes or cycling pants. My reason being that, without a car, I spend hours each day on my ‘real’ bike - without lycra padded pants or cycling shoes. Why would I buy the gear to sit on a stationary bike in a gym for an hour a week? Just like I pretend to ride up a mountain, I can also pretend that I am wearing sponsored Tour de France cycling gear.

In my warm house, after a short cycle in the cold rain back from the gym, I acknowledge that this surreal, physical activity is something that my kids will one day make fun of, – like I made fun of Olivia Newtown John and the roller-skating fitness craze that followed her film, Xanadu. It obviously made sense at the time, and like spinning classes, the release of endorphins makes the body feel good while the brain takes a little break from making sense of what we are doing and how foolish we are doing it.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


There is a strange old man sitting at the table opposite me.  He seems to be chewing his cud, making his sparse moustache rhythmically bounce up to conceal wide nostrils.  The loose skin below his eyes sits in overlapping layers that continue down his face and neck into his grey sweater.  He was wearing an Andy Capp hat, now removed to expose a shiny pate fringed by the remaining vestiges of a former hairstyle.

We are both in the hospital cafeteria.  It is a dull place with fluorescent lighting and an uninspiring menu.  I am typing on my laptop and he is waiting for the coffee and sausage rolls that his female companion is bringing to share with him. 

He watches me.  His expression gives away almost nothing, although I guess that he is either concerned or fascinated by my activity.  The strange noise he emits as he eats is distracting.  We continually sneak glances at one another, seeking more information or more evidence about the other.

His female companion, most likely a long-term spouse based on the lack of conversation between them, cuts his sausage roll in half.  She looks like a man.  Now finished with her own sausage roll, she has started on his.  He goes with it, without complaint. Finishing what remains on his plate, he takes out a large handkerchief, honks his nose and wipes his forehead. They continue to sit without speaking, although the space between them is not quiet.

Now ready to leave, she busses their tray while he redresses in his coat and hat.  Looking my way, he offers a farewell squint in my direction before exiting.

12 November 2013

Sunday, 29 September 2013


Sitting in front of my computer inside a warm house, watching the rain continue to pelt the outside world - is an ideal time to pull thoughts from my head and translate them into words on a page.  It is also a perfect setting to just lie on the couch and read already created literary projects.  Darn the dilemma of rainy days.

Friday, 16 August 2013


Ana McGinley is an Australian with a love of being immersed in cultures that she doesn't understand. She enjoys the thrill of being squeezed on buses with squawking chickens and their owners; eating foods she can't recognise; being part of conversations that sound like musical clacking; and watching people move oddly for reasons unapparent. These reasons are the same for why she has four children and one husband - all born in different parts of the world -  and together, all providing that same feeling of belonging to something that causes confusion.

Ana has a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Social Work.  She has worked extensively with older people suffering memory loss or mental health issues.  Ana has taught Singaporean university students about human development, and consulted on dementia projects for Dutch architectural students.  She has written columns on social issues for expat magazines (Singapore); and articles about Dutch cities and culture for

Currently living in the Netherlands, Ana contributes regularly to as a writer and reviewer.  Her book reviews for Summertime Publishing and Mosaique Press can also be found on websites listed on the portfolio page. Ana blogs about memory loss (, Haarlem ( writing, travel, and being the alien in an adopted land.

Long term plans include being able to write uninterrupted during the daytime hours (and being paid copious amounts of money to do this); moving to a Mediterranean island and waking up every morning to the sun shining on her face and the smell of the sea enticing her to 'come on in'; making goat cheese to go with the evening wine; spending one month in an unfamiliar country every year; and learning some patience.